Jewish couple murdered, their bodies mutilated in Morocco

A Moroccan Jewish couple was killed in Casablanca in what police said was a crime motivated by greed, but which some media said may have had a racist element.

Sam Toledano and Vicky Chetrit, a high-profile couple in the Jewish community who lived in the coastal city, were killed July 3, the online edition of Le360 daily reported Friday.

Moroccan police suspect a gardener employed by the couple killed them and cut up their bodies. He decapitated the couple and disposed of their body parts in various places in Casablanca to steal their jewelry, according to the version provided to the newspaper by police.

Police arrived at the couple’s home after members of their community reported their disappearance, the paper said. The detectives used ultraviolet lamps that showed traces of blood at their home, which had been swiped clean of other evidence.

But the news site Diaspora Saharaui, which is critical of the government of Morocco over its occupation of Western Sahara, suggested in its reporting that the police version does not explain the mutilation of the bodies.

“Moroccan authorities tried to present the crime as motivated by greed, but a simple thief would not have mutilated the bodies and dispersed their parts across the city,” the report said, citing the rarity of cases involving mutilation in Morocco.

Noting the couple’s high profile within the Jewish community, the news site urged Moroccan police to examine alternative motives for the crimes.

Belfast memorial to Christian Zionist officer vandalized

In what is being treated as a hate crime, a Belfast mural honoring a local Christian citizen who led a historic Jewish legion in World War I and then advocated for the creation of the State of Israel was vandalized.

The memorial to Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson was damaged early Thursday morning after two containers were set ablaze nearby, the Irish News reported. Belfast is in northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

An officer in the British army, Patterson during World War I commanded the Zion Mule Corps, the first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millennia, which fought in the Gallipoli Campaign. He went on to become an ardent supporter of the creation of a Jewish state.

His remains were moved to Israel last year and buried alongside the Jewish soldiers, belatedly fulfilling a wish he had expressed before his death in 1947, one year before the establishment of the State of Israel. At the 2015 burial ceremony in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Patterson “can be called the godfather of the Israeli army.”

“In doing what we are doing today, we are repaying a great historical debt and a personal debt to a great friend of our people, a great champion of Zionism, and a great believer in the Jewish state and the Jewish people,” said Netanyahu, whose father was a personal friend of Patterson.

Netanyahu’s older brother, Yonatan, who was killed leading the 1976 Entebbe rescue operation, was named for Patterson, who was his godfather.

The Belfast memorial features a large star of David and  a quote from Netanyahu: “In all of Jewish history we have never had a Christian friend as understanding and devoted.”

In addition to recognizing Patterson, the Belfast memorial also honors Jewish soldiers in World War I and World War II.

Pastor Paul Burns, a local Christian leader, told the U.K.’s iTV he believed the attack was anti-Semitic and said it was particularly disturbing coming just hours after four Israelis were killed in a Tel Aviv terror attack.

William Humphrey, a Belfast elected official, told iTV the attack was “clearly designed to raise tensions.” The memorial was “welcomed in the community … but also by the Jewish community as it showed the historic links between Belfast and Israel.”

Israeli students attacked with firebomb in NYC

A firebomb was thrown at two Israeli yeshiva students in New York City in an incident being investigated as a hate crime.

Neither of the students, both 19, were injured in the Midtown Manhattan attack, which occurred Friday and was reported in the New York media on Sunday morning.

Detectives from the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force interviewed the students in the wake of the attack after an officer at the scene did not take a formal report. The officer said “nothing happened,” according to the New York Daily News.

“A firebomb is not the kind of thing you have sitting in your car or in your bag unless you have someone to throw it at,” Barry Sugar, director of the Jewish Leadership Council, said in a statement emailed to JTA. “It is conceivable that the attacker sees these boys every Friday and prepared this bomb to ambush them.”

The students, one of whom only speaks Hebrew, are studying at a Brooklyn yeshiva for one year. They often visit Jewish-owned businesses in the area to call on people to perform mitzvahs, the New York Post reported, citing community leaders.

In a second possible hate crime incident, objects were thrown at an Orthodox Jewish woman, 22, as she pushed her baby in a stroller past the Bangladesh Muslim Center in Brooklyn, the Post reported, citing police. The Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident as a possible bias incident.

3 teens charged for allegedly throwing rock at kippah wearer in N.Y.

Three teens are being charged with hate crimes after allegedly throwing a rock at a kippah-wearing Jewish man in New York and threatening to kill him.

The teens threw the rock at the Staten Island man a few blocks from an Orthodox synagogue in the borough on Sunday evening, then surrounded and threatened to beat and kill him, the Staten Island Advance reported. They also made derogatory references to his yarmulke, a head covering worn by observant Jewish men.

The man, a doctor, escaped unharmed and the called the police.

Among those arrested was Kareen Cook, 17, of Staten Island, who was charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon, according to the Advance. Police said he was carrying a knife.

The two others arrested, both 15, are being tried as juveniles; their names were not released.

Greek Orthodox seminary in Jerusalem torched in suspected hate crime

A Greek Orthodox seminary in Jerusalem was set on fire in what is believed to be a hate crime.

Graffiti reading “Redemption of Zion” and disparaging Jesus were spray-painted on the walls of the seminary in the early Thursday morning attack. A room was damaged in the blaze; no one was injured.

“There is no room for such deplorable activity in Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement. “We must eradicate this behavior and bring those responsible to justice.”

Barkat said he asked the city’s police chief to speed up the investigation.

The attack comes a day after a mosque was set ablaze in the West Bank village of Jaba, near Bethlehem, in what is believed to be a nationalist attack.

“These attacks are a direct consequence of the calls for recognition of Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ and Jerusalem as the ‘eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people,'” chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement issued by the Palestinian Authority. “We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for those attacks that aim at terrorizing our people in order to leave their land. We will not tolerate any attacks on our Christian and Muslim religious holy sites, including any graffiti attacking Jesus Christ or Prophet Muhammad.”

UC Davis Community, ADL respond to hate-crime graffiti

The UC Davis chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) is reeling from a hate crime involving two red swastikas spray painted on its fraternity house, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

AEPi members woke up on the morning of Jan. 31 and discovered the swastikas on a wall of the fraternity’s “house and on the ground behind a door nearby,” an ADL statement said. ADL Central Pacific Regional Director Seth Brysk described the graffiti as a “heinous expression of hatred.” 

The City of Davis police are investigating the incident, which occurred between 2 and 9:50 a.m., and the ADL is “offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s) responsible for the vandalism,” a Feb. 2 statement by police said. 

Julia Reifkind, 20, president of the pro-Israel UC Davis group Aggies for Israel and a 2012 graduate of Milken Community Schools, told the Journal she was stunned when she saw what happened.

“I have never witnessed a hate crime up close, and to really be standing there right in front of it was a huge shock,” she said. 

The discovery of the swastikas took place during the week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. And two days before the discovery of the swastikas, the UC Davis student government passed an Israel divestment resolution in an 8-2-2 vote. More than 100 pro-Israel and Jewish students protested the Jan. 29 vote.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi condemned the swastikas. In a statement released Jan. 31, Katehi said the “behavior is not only repugnant and a gross violation of the values our university holds dear, it is unacceptable and must not be tolerated on our campus or anywhere else.” 

With regard to the Israel resolution vote, Katehi said in a separate statement that divestment from Israel “does not reflect the position of UC Davis or the [UC] system” and that “this type of call to action will not be entertained.” 

Reifkind, a third-year philosophy major, was among those who spoke out against the divestment vote meeting, which drew members of AEPi, according to the Aggies for Israel Facebook page. A leader of the school’s pro-Israel community, she helped orchestrate the walkout from the meeting that involved Jewish and pro-Israel students. 

Reifkind said she is “grateful” for the UC Davis administration’s condemnation of the swastika incident, but she also expressed disappointment that school leaders have not drawn a more direct and public “connection between the divestment resolution itself and anti-Semitism.”

“I think they are doing the best they can, given the climate on campus, but it would be better if they were more proactive about it,” she said. “I think they could have a bigger call to action in regard to anti-Semitism, but I’m grateful they have released a statement.”

The incident was just one of several similar incidents that have taken place at AEPi houses around the country lately, according to a statement released on Feb. 2 by AEPi’s executive director, Andrew Borans.

“On campuses throughout North America and Europe, AEPi brothers have been leading the Jewish community and leading the student movement to defend Israel,” Borans said. “Because of that leadership, in the last few months alone, our brothers have been the targets of anti-Semitic attacks at a dozen universities, including Oregon, the Claremont colleges, Arizona, Calgary, Loyola, Ohio, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Temple, Emory, SUNY-Oneonta, Tufts and, now, in Davis.”

Ronda Wilkin, a Los Angeles-based member of the UC Davis Parent and Family Council, said in a Feb. 3 phone interview that incidents like these make her concerned about the safety of students on college campuses. Her daughter, Samantha, is a third-year student at Davis, and Samantha’s twin brother, Daniel, attends the University of Oregon, both of which have been targets of anti-Semitic attacks.

“It’s sad, perhaps a little scary. You just want to make sure your kids are safe; that’s all I want. I want all of the kids at UC Davis to be safe — every color, every religion, every sexual orientation,” Wilkin told the Journal. “I just want them to be at a place that is safe and fosters an education.” 

Windows shot out in synagogue in Ocala, Fla.

Vandals shot out the windows of a Florida synagogue.

The attack on Dec. 25 damaged several windows of Temple B’nai Darom in Ocala, Fla.

A police investigation is underway. The windows were shot out with a BB gun, according to reports. The building’s security alarm sounded, calling police to the site.

“I think it’s a hate crime,” Robert Levenson, the temple’s president, told the Ocala Star Banner on Monday. “And when things like this happen, it’s hard to keep going.”

It is not the first time that the synagogue has been vandalized, according to the newspaper.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has classified the incident as criminal mischief.

“We are investigating this as we would other crime,” Laurel Lettilier of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office told the local Channel 13 news on Tuesday. “If we find anything that would delineate it a hate crime, we fill find it and track down any motives that might be involved.”

The sheriff’s office has increased patrols in the area, according to the report.

Nazi sympathizer charged with hate crime after threatening Walmart employees

A New Hampshire man was properly charged with a hate crime for threatening two Walmart employees with anti-Semitic statements, the state’s Supreme Court ruled.

On Friday, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Paul Costella on two counts of criminal threatening in the 2010 incident. He was sentenced last year to 12 months in jail.

Costella had threatened the Walmart employees in the automotive department after one said she could not serve him because she was offended by a photo in Costella’s car of the man and his daughter making a Heil Hitler salute in front of a large swastika, the Concord Monitor reported.

The employee told Costella that her uncle was a member of the French resistance during World War II and had been caught and burned alive by the Nazis.

“I hope that Jew bastard suffered,” Costella told the employee. Another employee serviced the car.

Costella also called the employee who refused him service a “gypsy Jew” and said he had a “Jew-killing gun” in the car. On the way out of the store, Costella said that he was “getting his gun to kill the Jew bitch behind the counter.”

In his appeal, Costella argued that the New Hampshire hate crime law would only be relevant if he had made the statements because he was aware the employees were Jewish, and it was not clear that either employee was Jewish.

The Supreme Court did not agree.

“The significant community harm resulting from a hate crime flows from the defendant’s bias-motivated actions rather than the victim’s actual status as a member of a protected class,” Justice Jim Bassett wrote in his decision.

A hate incident against Elon Gold

This past Friday night, instead of having my usual guests for a festive Friday night dinner in my home, I had three compassionate Los Angeles Police Department officers standing in my kitchen explaining the difference between a “hate crime” and a “hate incident.” My family was the victim of the latter.

We were walking home in Los Angeles after a Friday night dinner at a friend’s house, dressed nicely for Shabbat, easily identifiable as a Jewish family. We waited for a light to change on a corner of a major intersection when a black Mercedes SUV pulled up alongside us. Four Middle-Eastern men in their 20s were in the car. The one in the back rolled down his window and yelled, “Free Palestine!”

I immediately turned to face them, knowing I was in danger, remembering the rabbi who was gunned down in Miami on his way to synagogue. This was the beginning of either a hate crime or a hate incident, but either way, hate was coming our way. We all know too well that “Free Palestine” means free Palestine from every Jew. As they chant “Free Palestine, from the river to the sea,” that doesn’t mean they want a two-state solution — they want Hitler’s Final Solution and a Jew-free Middle East.

Then this Arab young man opened the car door, stepped onto the street and yelled at me, my wife and four young children: “I hope your children die! Just like you are killing children in Gaza!”

We all stood silently in utter horror and fear.

Then he got back in the Mercedes and they drove off. We were in a state of complete shock. My 10-year-old daughter immediately started crying and couldn’t stop. She kept yelling, “I’m scared.” My 5-year-old daughter asked me why they want her to die. My other kids were too rattled to say anything.

I was stunned that I can no longer feel safe walking on Shabbat with my family in my city. I kept reading about all the anti-Semitism all over Europe, but here in these United States? That my innocent children had to be exposed to this level of anti-Semitism has shaken me to my core. These people weren’t just yelling “Jew bastard” as I’d experienced growing up in the Bronx; they were wishing my children dead, right to their angelic faces. This was beyond appalling.

I couldn’t believe that they were filled with such hatred and ignorance, and that someone could go as far as wishing my children dead and blaming me for the death of children in Gaza. Me?! I’ve been killing children in Gaza? I’m a comedian. The only killing I’m personally responsible for is the killing of the audiences I’ve performed for. And the only “bombing” I’m guilty of are those rare sets where I don’t quite connect with the crowd.

Like any good, moral person, I hate to see death and destruction anywhere. As we are taught in Proverbs, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” I would have loved to have shared with them that I’m against war and the loss of innocent life. But they didn’t want to hear it. They wanted to spew hatred. I would’ve gladly had an intellectual discussion with them about the fact that all of humanity should join together against terrorists like Hamas and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), who are slaughtering innocents, but they didn’t want to listen.

I would’ve been happy to debate them on the fact that Israel has a right to defend itself against a terrorist group who is firing a barrage of rockets at every citizen. Or that had Hamas accepted the first cease-fire, no children in Gaza would’ve been killed. Or about their firing from hospitals and schools and other densely populated areas in order to get the civilian casualty numbers higher, gaining Israel worldwide condemnation. That the leaders of Israel have called every innocent civilian death “a great tragedy,” while the leaders of Hamas consider every innocent civilian death “a great victory.”

Or that Gaza is no longer “occupied.” Or the fact that the definition of the word “occupation” doesn’t apply to a country that won land in defensive wars. Wars that were attempts at the total annihilation of Israel. Wars that were thrust upon them before any “blockades” or “settlements” or “occupation” or any of the other made-up words that are now used to justify killing Jews. Or that much of the suffering of the Palestinian people is a direct result of their elected leadership, just as the suffering of Arabs in most Middle-Eastern countries is at the hands of their oppressive regimes. That the Arabs who enjoy real freedom, including freedom to worship any sect of any religion, freedom to speak their minds, freedom to be gay, are the Israeli-Arabs living in Israel. Or simply educate them on the 3,000-year history of our people in our tiny homeland and our willingness and desire to live in peace with our Arab neighbors.

But they didn’t want a debate. They just wanted to hate. They wanted to terrorize my family and they did. But as I explained to my crying and visibly shaken kids as we walked home, “They said they wanted us dead — now imagine living in Israel where every day they don’t just say it, they actually attempt to kill all of the Israeli children, and tragically just today they murdered a 4-year-old Israeli boy with a Hamas rocket.” Not the most comforting words to young, rattled children, but now that their innocence was shattered, I felt that it was important for them to understand the reality of the world they are living in.

The LAPD officers who were dispatched to my house were extremely kind and compassionate. In fact, the first officer who showed up was Jewish and very comforting to my children. I, too, was comforted by him and by the knowledge that there were Jewish men and women protecting the citizens of Los Angeles. (At least more than the one Jewish officer I heard about in Malibu, at whom Mel Gibson directed his anti-Semitic tirade.) This officer really put my kids at ease and told them not to be scared. It also didn’t hurt that he told us that he and his wife enjoyed my work, especially when I’ve hosted the Chabad Telethon.

Then two more officers showed up to take the report. It was explained to us that it would’ve been a hate crime if they had said they were going to kill us, instead of merely hoping we got killed, which makes it a hate incident. Try explaining that differentiation to a 10-year-old girl who was just told to die.

I feel so sad that my children’s innocence was lost at that very moment. That they were unwillingly and instantaneously initiated into the “We Hate You Because of WHAT You Are” club. That they now know the harsh reality that just because they were born into a Jewish family they are targets and subject to death threats. That they can be blamed and scapegoated for things they have nothing to do with. That they are hated.

I can write a 50-page piece about where all the hatred comes from. There are too many reasons to point fingers at. The media, (I’m talking to you CNN, The New York Times, etc.), who instead of reporting on every single rocket fired into Israel, chooses to focus on every civilian casualty of this war, instigated and perpetuated by Hamas. Constantly providing the numbers of the dead, instead of the number, 11, which is the number of cease-fires Hamas has broken, thereby causing all of this death and destruction. Repeatedly displaying images of dead civilians without any of the context that many of the dead are terrorists and that any real civilian casualties were victims of Hamas’ double war crimes of firing rockets at innocent civilians while using their innocent civilians as human shields. Or that a number of casualties include civilians who were killed by errant Hamas rockets.

This is what fuels the fire and allows people to think they now have the right to wish death upon my children.

I can blame my fellow “comedian” Russell Brand who has the audacity to say that Hamas is firing “harmless’ rockets. Harmless?! Tell that to the family of the 4-year-old Israeli boy who was murdered by a “harmless” Hamas rocket.

The world is buying into this propaganda. They’re allowing the terrorists to win this media intifada. They are actually listening to celebrities like Javier Bardem and Roger Waters using the word “genocide” to describe Israel’s actions toward the Palestinian people, when the only genocide occurring in the Middle East is by folks in the Bashar Assad regime, which murdered 170,000 innocents, or in ISIS, which is murdering innocent Christians and others who are not of their beliefs. Oh yeah, and the attempted genocide of every Jew in Israel, a genocide that is codified in Hamas’ very own charter, one that has been stopped thanks to the Iron Dome and the destruction of the terror tunnels, which were built for an actual genocide.

I can go on and on about how all of the pro-Palestinian rallies have signs that say “Death to Jews” and praise Hitler, and why Jews everywhere are now targets of hate crimes, hate incidents, vandalism and murder. I could … but I have jokes to write. Because I’m trying to make the world a better place with laughter. Sadly, we now live in a world full of people who love to hate, more than they love to laugh.

Elon Gold is a comedian and actor who has appeared on The Tonight Show 10 times, starred in the FOX sitcom “Stacked” and has a stand-up special out on Netflix. Follow him on Twitter: @elongold.

Brooklyn man, extradited from Israel, arraigned in ’08 beating death

NEW YORK (JTA) — A former Hasidic community watch group member in Brooklyn was arraigned in New York in a 2008 beating death after being extradited from Israel.

Yitzchak Schuchat, 31, was arraigned Friday in state Supreme Court in the death of Andrew Charles, according to New York 1. U.S. marshals returned him to New York last week.

Schuchat is facing charges of second- and third-degree assault as a hate crime; Charles was black.

An Israeli court decided to extradite Schuchat in 2011, but he remained in Israel pending appeal.

Schuchat, a member of the Shmira community watch group at the time of the assault, is being held on $300,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 18.

Belfast synagogue vandalized on back-to-back days

A window was smashed on successive days at a synagogue in Belfast, Ireland.

The vandalism at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation took place on Friday night and the following day, the BBC reported. In the latter incident, the replacement window was shattered.

Police are treating the vandalism as a religious hate crime.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said it was “totally unacceptable” for places of worship to be targeted, the BBC reported.

Gerry Kelly, a member of the legislative assembly, condemned the attack.

“There can be no place for attacks on any place of worship, regardless of the religion or denomination,” Kelly said, according to Belfast’s News Letter. “The local Jewish community makes a valuable contribution to our society and there is no justification for hate crimes.”

It was not clear whether the attack was related to Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip.

Mezuzahs set ablaze in haredi Orthodox Brooklyn section

Eleven mezuzahs were set afire in a residential building in Brooklyn in an incident that New York City police are treating as a hate crime.

The vandalism occurred Monday afternoon — the day Israel observed Holocaust Remembrace Day — in public housing located in the predominantly haredi Orthodox section of Williamsburg.

No suspects have been apprehended in the crime.

“The Hate Crimes Task Force has been assigned to it and is treating it as a bias crime,” Paul Browne, the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman, told The New York Times. “The fact that they are all religious artifacts, we’re treating it as an anti-Semitic crime.”

No hate crime conviction in Malmö in two years, despite record number of incidents

Despite a record number of complaints about hate crimes in the Swedish city of Malmö, not a single person was convicted of such offenses in over two years, according to a recent report.

The local daily Sydsvenskan on Jan. 7 reported that in 2010 and 2011, the Swedish court system did not convict anyone of hate crimes despite a record-number of 480 complaints about such incidents reported in those years.

In total, only 16 cases formed the basis for an indictment, none of them over anti-Semitic behavior.

Approximately 700 Jews live in Malmö, amid tens of thousands of immigrants from Muslim countries. The Jewish community’s leaders say a few dozen anti-Semitic attacks occur here annually.

[Related: Why the fate of Malmö’s Jews matters]

Unidentified individuals detonated an explosive charge in front of the Malmö Jewish Community Center in October and broke the building’s door. Police have no suspects in connection with the attack.

According to members of the community, most anti-Semitic attacks are perpetrated by Muslims, though Malmö Mayor Ilmar Reepalu has denied this.

He advised Jews who want to be safe in Malmo to reject Zionism, which he listed along with anti-Semitism as an unacceptable phenomenon. Reepalu has also said the Jewish community had been “infiltrated” by anti-Muslim agents.

Hannah Rosenthal, the United States former special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, last year accused Reepalu of not doing enough to fight anti-Semitism.

According to Sydsvenskan, a total of 4,590 hate crimes were reported to the police in the whole of Sweden in 2012.

Hate crimes are not a punishable category in the Swedish penal code but are considered an aggravating circumstance that can lead to tougher sentencing.

Malmo police see no reason to call JCC attack a hate crime

Police in Malmo, Sweden, said they had “no indication” that a recent attack on the offices of the local Jewish community was a hate crime.

The police arrested and later released two 18-year-old men suspected of hurling a brick and a large firecracker at the entrance of the community’s offices on Sept. 28. The building sustained some damage but no one was hurt.

“The suspects never said or indicated they were perpetrating a hate crime,” Anders Lindell, a Malmo police officer and spokesman, told JTA. He added that the suspects denied any involvement in the attack. The investigation is ongoing, he said.

Willy Silberstein of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, a Stockholm-based NGO, told JTA that he found the decision “very strange.”

“When such incidents are not classified as hate crimes, it does not add to the credibility of government figures on anti-Semitism,” he said.

Sweden has approximately 20,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress. Several hundred of them live in Malmo, according to Fredrik Sieradski, a spokesman for the Malmo Jewish congregation.

In 2011, The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reported 190 anti-Semitic crimes in all of Sweden.

Girls admit to syrup swastikas, mother investigated

Three teenaged girls admitted to defacing a Northridge home with swastikas this week, but will not face criminal charges, according to investigators with the LAPD’s Devonshire Division. However, the mother of one girl could face a criminal charge for driving the girls to the scene.

“That is the direction of the investigation now, to find out whether or not the mother’s actions are criminal in nature,” LAPD Capt. Kris Pitcher said.

On Tuesday morning, April 3, a Northridge Jewish family awoke to find three swastikas and the word “Jew” written in maple syrup on their front walkway. The homeowner, who spoke with The Journal on condition of anonymity, said maple syrup also covered his front door as well as two cars parked in front of the home. Feces were also found near the home’s front door and toilet paper was strewn in the property’s trees.

A second nearby property was also defaced with toilet paper.

Police confirmed the three teenaged girls were responsible, but they could not be charged with a crime because the syrup, feces and toilet paper had caused no permanent damage.

“It was a very unfortunate incident, but it did not amount to a criminal act,” Devonshire Division’s Lt. Silva Atwater said.

Without a criminal charge, police also could not charge the girls with a hate crime.

“Hate crimes enhance the penalty for an already existing crime when it can be shown,” said Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.

The girls’ actions will instead be recorded as a “hate incident.”

“It goes down in the stats and everything else, however … there is no prosecution,” Pitcher said.

The three teenage girls obliged a police request to appear at the Northridge station on April 4. They admitted to defacing the homes, and they left the station later that afternoon, Atwater said.

An LAPD press release issued after the interviews describes the defacement as “an ill-advised prank.”

Whether the mother knew what the girls’ plan was is still being investigated, Pitcher said.

The homeowner, who had initially reported that his home was in Chatsworth, said the three girls were former friends of his teenage daughter and that they attend the same school.

“What it comes down to, these are three stupid kids doing a stupid act,” he said.

Northridge home defaced with swastikas

[UPDATE Apr. 10: Girls admit to syrup swastikas, mother could face charge]

[UPDATE Apr. 5: Girls admit to syrup swastikas, mother investigated]

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Devonshire Division is investigating the Tuesday morning vandalism of a Northridge home as a hate crime.

Three swastikas and the word “Jew” were written in maple syrup on the home’s front walkway. Feces were also found near the home’s front door and toilet paper was strewn in the property’s trees, according to the homeowner.

LAPD Sgt. Humberto Najera said the victim’s residence was hit with what appeared to be a prank, but police are investigating the incident as a hate crime and as an act of vandalism because the graffiti was anti-Semitic.

“We don’t treat these things lightly,” Najera said.

The incident took place sometime between midnight and 6:30 a.m. on April 3, according to the homeowner, who works out of a home office with a window that overlooks the front yard. He first noticed the toilet paper in a tree.

“I went outside to make sure there wasn’t additional damage, and when I opened up the door there was feces on the doorstep, maple syrup all over my door and on the doorstep and walking up to the door, two swastikas and the word ‘Jew’ and a third swastika,” said the homeowner, who spoke with The Journal on condition of anonymity.

The homeowner, the son of a Holocaust survivor, posted an image of the vandalism on Facebook. The photo has since gone viral.

The homeowner, a father, believes the incident could be related to three teenaged girls – former friends of his daughter.

He said that another house in the neighborhood, about three-quarters of a mile away, was vandalized with toilet paper around the same time. He added that his daughter is a friend of the daughter of the other victimized family.

The victims have not yet contacted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“We’re always concerned when we see swastikas,” said ADL Senior Associate Director Alison Mayersohn, who planned to follow up with police officials Wednesday morning.

The homeowner described his neighborhood as ordinarily “very quiet,” and said he could not recall other incidents of anti-Semitism taking place in the area. He was, however, jolted by this incident.

“It’s 2012 and we’re still dealing with people hating Jews because we’re Jews,” he said.

Report: Hate crimes data in Europe inadequate

The European body monitoring hate crimes said that governments fail to provide adequate data.

A report on hate crimes in 2010 released this month by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe found that some states do not collect any data all on such crimes, a finding that was backed by the Anti-Defamation League and Human Rights First.

“Significant gaps in data collection remain a major obstacle to understanding the prevalence and nature of hate crimes within most participating states and across the OSCE as a region,” said the report by the organization’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. “A number of participating states do not collect any statistics at all on hate crimes. Some participating states collect data, but do not make the data public.”

Creating a uniform standard for hate crimes reporting and getting nations in the 56-member OSCE to comply has for years dogged hate crimes reporting, despite periodic pledges by member nations to increase reporting.

“Seven years ago in Berlin, the OSCE countries pledged with great urgency to gather data on anti-Semitic crimes,” Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement. ”Yet only four of those governments have provided information on incidents for the OSCE’s report. Without this basic monitoring, how can any government demonstrate that they are serious about addressing it?”

The ADL and Human Rights First issued a joint analysis this week of the OSCE’s report, breaking down how member nations fail to report hate crimes.

Only 31 out of 56 countries “submitted questionnaires for the year 2010, one less than last year and significantly less than the 47 questionnaires that were submitted two years ago,” said the analysis.

Moreover, the analysis showed that among participating states reporting was inadequate.

“Two countries reported that they do not collect any data on hate crimes, and six states reported fewer than twenty incidents nationally,” it said. “Even countries that have made efforts to establish more robust monitoring systems generally do not disaggregate the data” to show which groups are targeted by hate crimes and which crimes are violent and which involve other violations, including incitement and discrimination.

Brooklyn neighborhood hit again in alleged hate crime

A Brooklyn neighborhood was the scene of an alleged hate crime for the second time in less than a week.

Early Wednesday morning, the Avenue J subway sign in the Midwood section of the New York borough was spray-painted to read “Avenue JEW.”

Last week three cars were set afire in the neighborhood several blocks from the new vandalism. The sidewalk and park benches nearby also were spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti, including “F—- the Jews” and Nazi swastikas. “KKK” was painted on a nearby van.

The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating last week’s incident.

“Education and vigilance are our only weapons in fighting against this blatant hatred,” state Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) said Wednesday, according to reports. “We must send a message to those who perpetrate these vile acts that we will not tolerate their behavior.

Right Goal—Wrong Strategy

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) held a ” title=”hate crime report” target=”_blank”>hate crime report, for 2009, revealed that, nationally, there were 1,303 religiously based hate crimes, of which 107 were directed against Muslims. Clearly a matter of concern, but, put in context — there were 931 hate crimes directed against Jews (a numerically comparable cohort nationally) that year — hardly a reason for a feeling of “psychological alienation.” Locally, the ” title=”Pew poll” target=”_blank”>Pew poll found that Americans were concerned about domestic Islamic extremism (the poll was conducted in the wake of the deadly Fort Hood Army base murders) — 79 percent of the public was “very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in the United States.” If four-fifths of the public is troubled by the rise of American-based Islamic extremism, and there are headline-making incidents to support that concern, one doesn’t have to be George Gallup to conclude that, like it or not, it will impact attitudes toward Islam and, likely, American Muslims.

Nothing justifies extrapolating from individuals to the larger group in terms of stereotyping and bigotry, but the events of the past decade have clearly put Americans’ tolerance to the test and attitudinal shifts — if not actions — can be the result; the death of bin Laden is but one step in the right direction. Fewer American Muslims heeding the siren call of religious martyrdom would help as well.

MPAC’s president, Salam Al-Marayati, in a post-bin Laden statement buttressed his hopeful message of a “new era” dawning with an analysis that concluded that bin Laden was essentially an outlier in the Muslim world: “His acts of senseless terror have been met with moral outrage by Muslims worldwide at every turn in the past decade.” The logic presumably being that if the outlier is gone, saner heads will prevail in the Muslim world.

If only that were true. The sad reality is that bin Laden had, and likely still has, a sympathetic audience for his fanaticism in large swaths of the Muslim world.

A largely ignored

Sheriff to push for hate crime charges in Calabasas anti-semitic graffiti case

Read more on this story here.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will push for hate crime enhancements to felony charges of vandalism expected to be filed soon against three Calabasas High School students, an official from the Sheriff’s Department said Thursday.

The three 11th graders confessed to investigators on Tuesday to defacing their school late Friday night with extensive anti-Semitic and racist graffiti. The three students, all of whom have been described as “4.0 students” have not been named because they are minors.

The three were arrested Wednesday morning and released to their parents’ custody.

“We are going to file felony vandalism charges, with a hate crime enhancement,” Capt. Joe Stephen of the Malibu/Lost Hills Station said. The Sheriff’s Department investigation has not yet been completed, and the ultimate decision about whether to charge the students with a hate crime will be made by a Los Angeles County District Attorney.

Initial reports had said that the sheriff’s department would not pursue hate crime charges, but Stephen denied that the more severe designation had ever been off the table.

“Obviously those symbols and signs are despicable and shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone,” Stephen said of the graffiti, which included numerous swastikas, a spray-painted portrait of Hitler and the words “Whites Only” scrawled above a water fountain. “The Sheriff’s Department fully understands the magnitude and historical significance of those markings.”

In addition to any criminal prosecution, the students will face disciplinary action by administrators and school district officials.

Police say Calabasas High students were behind anti-Semitic graffiti

Read more on this story here.

Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have identified three students at Calabasas High School as the alleged vandals behind extensive anti-Semitic graffiti found on school property on Saturday morning, April 23, a spokesperson from the Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday afternoon. The students have not yet been charged, and the case will be presented to a district attorney on Friday, according to Sgt. Mike Holland of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

Names of the students to be charged will be released mid-day on Wed. April 27, Holland said.

The graffiti, which was removed before the start of school on Monday, included numerous swastikas on lockers, walls and pavement, and a spray-painted portrait of Hitler. News reports said that the graffiti also targeted groups other than Jews, including blacks and Latinos.

The scrawlings included the names of seven Calabasas High School students and two teachers at the school. All of the students targeted by the vandals are members of the school’s 11th grade class, and most, though not all, are Jewish.

This is not the first such incident at the school; in January 2010 a student who is Jewish found a swastika carved into the hood of his car. No one was charged for the incident. At that time, the school’s principal, C.J. Foss, suggested that it was a personal attack by one student against another.

Police did not release the names of the three students alleged to be behind the graffiti, but said they are also members of the 11th grade class at the high school.

“They’re all 4.0 students, on both sides,” Holland said.

Since the incident, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has interviewed more than 100 students, including those named in the graffiti and the suspects. Holland said that the three alleged vandals told investigators that they had been mistreated by their fellow students at the school, and specifically by the seven students whose names were found spray-painted on the school’s walls.

Holland said the three students told investigators that they believed the students named in the markings are Jewish.

Calabasas High School is a California Distinguished School and a National Blue Ribbon School. The student body has a large Jewish population.

Holland said the Sheriff’s Department will search the home of one of the three students on April 27. When the case is presented on Fri. April 29, the district attorney will decide whether to charge the students with criminal vandalism or a hate crime. All of them are minors, and none have prior criminal records.

Holland said that there is evidence suggesting that the suspects have indeed been “picked on” by other students over the course of the school year.

“It’s not as black and white as people think,” he said.

“These kids will be prosecuted for it, because their actions were illegal,” Holland said.

Students at the school have begun to receive tolerance training by a sherriff’s department program in the aftermath of the incident.


Three students arrested for anti-Semitic graffiti at Calabasas High School

Teens charged with hate crimes in Brooklyn assault

Hate crimes charges were filed against two teens in an assault on at least one Chasidic man in Brooklyn.

The teens were captured Monday night in the Williamsburg neighborhood of the New York City borough by members of the Shomrim volunteer patrol following the assault, according to reports.

Brian Pena, 15, and Pete Montanez, 14, allegedly attacked Moshe Guttman, 45, as he left a Chanukah party Monday night outside of the Yeshiva Beer Hatorah.

The teens were charged as juveniles with assault as a hate crime, but community leaders are calling on Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes to charge them as adults because of the seriousness of the attacks, according to The New York Jewish Week.

Police are trying to determine whether the boys are responsible as well for an attack two weeks ago on a man wearing Chasidic garb.

Joel “Joseph” Weinberger, 26, was attacked while returning home on the evening of Thanksgiving from his job at the same yeshiva.

‘Kill Jews’ notes author charged with hate crime

A former Brooklyn car service driver accused of leaving notes reading ‘Kill Jews’ around New York’s Long Island was arraigned on a hate crimes charge.

Demetrios Apolonide, the driver for XYZ Car Service who was arraigned Wednesday for aggravated harassment, allegedly dropped the notes, written on torn pieces of the company’s vouchers, in the communities where he dropped off his fares, according to reports. He dropped the notes at least nine different times between September 2009 and March 2010.

Apolonide, 37, was arrested last summer in New York City on similar charges.

He told authorities he scattered the notes in order for “the Jews to find them to think it was the Muslims,” police officials said Wednesday according to Newsday.

Pig’s head left at Lithuanian synagogue

A pig’s head was left at the entrance of a synagogue in Lithuania.

The pig’s head, which reportedly had a Star of David engraved on its forehead and wore a black hat with sidelocks attached to it, was discovered last Saturday at a synagogue in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas.

Lithuanian Jewish leaders called the incident a neo-Nazi provocation, according to the European Jewish Press.  Kaunas police are investigating the incident but currently have no suspects, according to the Baltic News Service.

Up to 500 Jews live in Kaunas and about 5,000 Jews in all of Lithuania.

Suspect in hate crime attack turns himself in

A second suspect in an alleged hate crime attack against a Jewish man in Eugene, Ore., has turned himself in.

The suspect was charged Wednesday with second-degree assault in connection with the attack.

Police first made an arrest in the case Monday.

The Jewish man, 33, was attacked twice an hour apart on Saturday night near the University of Oregon campus, according to the Oregonian newspaper. Two men punched and kicked him and, during the second assault, shouted anti-Semitic slurs.

Eugene Police Sgt. Kris Martes told KVAL News that the assault is considered a hate crime.

“The purpose and the motivation behind the crime, according to the victim, is his religious orientation,” Martes said.

The alleged attackers, all transients, reportedly knew each other.

Questions linger about SF death of pro-Israel activist

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA)—Police said this week that the mysterious death of an outspoken pro-Israel activist appeared to be accidental, but friends and family of Dr. Daniel Kliman insist he was the victim of foul play.

“We almost expected something would happen to him at some point, given his activism and trips to Israel,” said Kliman’s brother, Jonathan. “We didn’t expect what seemed to have happened to him. It seems really odd, and I’m glad the investigations are continuing.”

Kliman’s body was discovered Dec. 1 at the bottom of an elevator shaft in the historic Sharon Building at 55 New Montgomery St. Apparently it had been there for six days.

Kliman, a 38-year-old internist who lived alone in Oakland, was supposed to leave for Israel on Thanksgiving, giving friends and family no reason to question his whereabouts.

As of Dec. 3, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman was saying that Kliman’s death appeared to have been an accident, citing police Inspector Matt Krimsky’s suggestion that Kliman died Nov. 25 after climbing out of an elevator stuck between the sixth and seventh floors.

That day, a surveillance camera recorded Kliman waiting for an elevator in the lobby. Authorities continue to analyze that footage, plus other evidence they obtained from the scene. An autopsy report is pending.

Kliman was taking classes at Pacific Arabic Resources on the seventh floor of the Sharon Building. It is unclear why he was in the building, as classes during the week of Thanksgiving had been canceled.

“A number of us find the circumstances of his death rather suspicious,” said Michael Harris, a longtime friend who helped found the advocacy group San Francisco Voice for Israel with Kliman. “Given that he was a relatively well-known public figure for Israel advocacy in the Bay Area, he would have people who strongly disagreed with the causes he stood up for.

“Two days before he’s going to Israel and [on] a day when there were no classes, why would he have been in the building?”

Jonathan Bernstein, the director of the Central Pacific Region of the Anti-Defamation League, said Dec. 3 that he had had several conversations with the San Francisco Police Department concerning the possible cause of Kliman’s death.

“[The police] clearly understood Dan’s background and how he was a recognizable figure in the Jewish community and was often out there demonstrating against anti-Israel demonstrations,” Bernstein said. “They understand why they need to look at this a little differently.”

Word of Kliman’s death spread quickly throughout the Zionist community in the Bay Area and beyond.

Harris said he was stunned to hear the news about Kliman, whom he met in 2003 when the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council rallied pro-Israel individuals to combat local anti-Zionist and anti-Israel protests.

A year later Harris, Kliman and a number of local activists formed San Francisco Voice for Israel. The group, an affiliate of the StandWithUs national Israel advocacy organization, was dedicated to publicly denouncing anti-Israel sentiment.

The passionate and take-charge Kliman designed and disseminated pro-Israel fliers and documented protests with a series of clips on YouTube.

“Dan had a much larger-than-life personality,” Harris said. “He was passionately committed to Israel. Without any question, he was the real driving force of San Francisco Voice for Israel.”

He added, “We would joke that Dan seemed to be somewhat incident-prone. He wouldn’t start a confrontation, but he wouldn’t back down from one either.”

Adamant about never owning a car, and very much against even riding in one—his father was killed in an automobile accident four years ago—Kliman would arrive at rallies throughout the Bay Area on his bicycle.

Harris called him a “bicycle activist” who was reluctant to take car rides from anyone. Before moving to the Bay Area, Kliman founded St. Louis Critical Mass, a monthly protest ride that aimed to draw attention to how unfriendly the city was to bicyclists.

During Bike Summer 1999, a huge celebration of bicycle culture, Kliman organized a post-ride Shabbat service in Duboce Park with prayer books and candles.

“Jews and non-Jews stood in a circle and sang L’cha Dodi,” recalled Katherine Roberts, who met Kliman when he traveled from Chicago to San Francisco for the bike event. “It was this wonderfully inclusive event, and incredibly unique and brilliant. It was the only Shabbat service I can remember.”

Roberts, a fellow bicycle activist, said she didn’t always agree with her good friend Kliman or his feelings toward Israel, but their differences never interfered with the friendship.

“If you have radical or philosophical differences, it usually causes a friction,” Roberts said. “I never had that with Dr. Dan. He was a wonderful person—the only Orthodox gay vegetarian bicycling doctor I knew. I was so impressed with his uniqueness.”

An active member of Beth Jacob Congregation, an Orthodox synagogue near his home, Kliman attended Havdalah services regularly and always was involved when the temple had any pro-Israel programming.

A shaken Rabbi Judah Dardick said this week he still feels as if Kliman is going to walk through his synagogue’s doors.

“Dan was a very lively, alive and vibrant person,” Dardick said. “You really knew when he was in the room. To know he’s not going to be in the room anymore is a big shocker.”

On more than one occasion, Dardick asked Kliman to his home for Shabbat dinner. Dardick recalled that although Kliman found the meat on the table revolting, he still accepted the invitation.

“Dan said he never ate anything that ever had a mother,” Dardick said with a laugh. “He had a few causes that he fought for and cared about. He’s someone I learned a lot from.”

Funeral services will be held in Schenectady, N.Y., pending the arrival of Kliman’s body, according to Jonathan Kliman, who lives in Springfield, Mass.

Along with his brother, Kliman is survived by his mother, Edith, of Schenectady. Kliman was predeceased by his father, Gerald.

More Jewish teens attacked in Paris, Adelson gives $30 million to Birthright

Jewish Teens Beaten in Paris Attack

Three Jewish teenagers were attacked in the same Paris district where another Jewish teen was beaten severely in June.

The victims, who were wearing kippot, were temporarily hospitalized for minor injuries on Saturday in what some officials are describing as another anti-Semitic attack in the 19th District.

Badly bruised and with some fractures, the three were shocked and worried about their safety, said Raphael Haddad, president of the French Jewish Student Union, who spoke to the victims on Sunday.

“Their attackers were also from the neighborhood,” said Haddad in a telephone interview, “so they are worried about what will happen if they see them again.”

The three reported the incident to Paris police on Saturday after going to the hospital. The attack took place at about 6:30 p.m. in the low-income, heavily Jewish and Muslim northeastern Paris neighborhood, where 17-year-old Rudy Haddad was beaten on June 21 by a group of young people.

Two of Haddad’s assailants were charged with “attempted murder and group violence aggravated by their anti-Semitic character.”

Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish umbrella organization, CRIF, told Jewish Radio RCJ on Sunday that he was “certain” the three were targeted because they were identified as Jews.

“There isn’t a shadow of a doubt” concerning the “anti-Semitic character” of the crime, said Prasquier. “Let it be made clear — the boys who were walking by had a kippah.”

A Paris police spokeswoman said an investigation was launched to determine whether the incident was anti-Semitic, adding that the attackers reportedly did not speak to their victims.

The victims’ names were not made public by the French press, but the Jerusalem Post identified them as Bnei Akiva youth group counselors Kevin Bitan and David Buaziz, both 18, and Dan Nebet, 17.

Foundation to Give Birthright $30 Million

The Adelson Family Foundation has pledged another $30 million to the Birthright Israel Foundation.

Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who is chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, have now contributed nearly $100 million in gifts over the past two years to the foundation that supplies private funds to Birthright.

The latest pledge consists of a $20 million contribution for 2009 and $10 million for 2010, said Michael Bohnen, president of the Adelson Foundation, in a news release Tuesday announcing the gift.

Adelson said in the release that Birthright Israel “has proven to be the best vehicle we have to strengthen the Jewish community and our people’s connection with the State of Israel. We are honored to have helped Birthright Israel establish a track record of effectiveness on an unprecedented scale, and we look forward to its continued success.”

He called the gift a challenge to other philanthropists to step up during difficult financial times.

Adelson in September 2007 was ranked third on the Forbes magazine list of wealthiest Americans, with a net worth estimated at $28 billion.

Bronfman Prize Seeks Nominations

The Charles Bronfman Prize is seeking nominees for 2009. The prize, which includes a $100,000 award, celebrates the accomplishments of individuals, 50 years old or younger, whose Jewish values have infused their efforts to better the world.

The prize, named for the Birthright Israel co-founder, was launched in 2002 by his children, Stephen Bronfman and Ellen Bronfman Hauptman. Past Bronfman Prize winners include Jay Feinberg, founder of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, and Israeli environmentalist Dr. Alon Tal.

Deadline for nominations is Nov. 30.

For nomination forms or more information, visit

— Staff Report

Entire Quebec Town Invited to Wedding

Jewish couple Hana Sellem and Moshe Barouk, invited hundreds of residents of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts to their wedding Tuesday as a gesture of good will after a series of anti-Semitic attacks in the town this summer.

Sellem, 26, an immigrant from France who follows Lubavitch-Chabad teachings, is vice principal of a Jewish teacher’s college in the town.

The couple printed wedding guides in French and English explaining the ceremony. About 300 residents attended.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Judge declares mistrial in Seattle Jewish Federation shooting case

SEATTLE (JTA)—A judge declared a mistrial in the case of the gunman who shot up the offices of this city’s Jewish federation.

The King County prosecutor vowed to retry Naveed Haq, 32, who claimed he was not guilty by reason of insanity.

The jury said it could not agree on all but one of the 15 counts of murder and attempted murder against Haq, whose July 2006 shooting spree at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle left one woman dead and seriously injured five.

Jurors deliberated for eight days after a six-week trial that featured testimony from 32 prosecution witnesses and 16 for the defense.

“Substantial justice cannot be done,” Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas told a packed Seattle courtroom Wednesday. “There is no reasonable probability of the jury reaching an agreement. I declare a mistrial.”

Prosecutor Daniel Satterberg said he hopes to try the case again in six months. A hearing to select a new trial date is scheduled for June 12.

In a news conference following the mistrial announcement, Satterberg told reporters that the mistrial would not seriously harm the prosecution’s core arguments and emphasized his continued commitment to the case.

“The attack by Naveed Haq upon the women inside the offices of the Jewish federation remains one of the most serious crimes ever committed in this city,” Satterberg said.

Haq kidnapped a 14-year-old girl to gain entrance into the building and began shooting as he reached the federation’s second-floor reception area.

He spewed anti-Israel and anti-Jewish slurs during the attack while decrying the Iraq war and Israel’s 2006 conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Haq made similar comments on a video shown in the courtroom prior to the trial’s start.

According to a court memorandum, Haq told a 911 operator during his shooting rampage, “I’m not upset at the people, I’m upset at your foreign policy. These are Jews. I’m tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East.”

A self-proclaimed Muslim of Pakistani ancestry, Haq had driven 227 miles from his home in eastern Washington to Seattle, stopping to test-fire his two handguns along the way. Two weeks before the shooting he had researched Jewish organizations via the Internet to choose his target. He went on Mapquest for directions to the building.

After the shooting, Haq was coaxed into speaking with 911 operators by a pregnant Dayna Klein, who covered her abdomen with her arm to protect her unborn child. The wound left her without use of the arm.

“He said nothing,” Klein testified during the trial. “He shot at his first opportunity. He was aiming for me and I put my arm in front of my abdomen.”

Haq surrendered to police without further incident and complied with directions from police while in custody, officers testified in court.

Federation CEO Richard Fruchter expressed disappointment at the jury’s inability to reach a verdict on all but one of the 15 counts against Haq.

“We are extremely disappointed in this hung jury,” Fruchter said. “He made anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements, but somehow this was not enough.”

During deliberations, the six men and six women of the jury told the judge they did not understand the legal meaning of concepts like “right from wrong” and whether Haq knew the “nature and quality” of his acts.

Prosecution witness Robert Wheeler defined the terms for the jury under direct questioning from prosecutor Donald Raz.

The terms “nature and quality,” testified Wheeler, “is when he acts with an objective or purpose to accomplish a result that constitutes a crime.”

To determine whether Haq understood right and wrong, Wheeler said one must ask, “Was he capable of understanding the consequences of his actions? Can they perceive risks to themselves and to others? Did he know where he was, who he was, and what he was doing at the time? Could he follow directions?”

Jurors made five requests to Kallas during their deliberations, but none were to clarify language or for a review of the 20-minute surveillance video from security cameras at the Jewish federation recorded the afternoon of the shooting.

Haq initially was charged with nine felonies, including aggravated first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder, all with the use of a firearm. Other charges included kidnapping and burglary for taking Kelsey Burkum hostage and unlawfully entering the federation building.

Haq also was charged with malicious harassment under the state’s hate crimes law.

Jurors found Haq not guilty on first-degree attempted murder for the shooting of Carol Goldman. The charge is expected to be lowered to second-degree attempted murder for the next trial.

According to doctors who treated him for a decade, Haq suffers from Bipolar 1 disorder with psychotic features including schizoaffective disorder, delusions, hallucinations and depression.

Once a promising student at the University of Pennsylvania—he has degrees in biology and electrical engineering – Haq became withdrawn and moody shortly after enrolling in graduate school, according to the medical experts.

The defense’s central medical expert, Dr. James Missett, a Yale University-trained addiction and forensic psychiatrist, told the court that Haq was and is severely mentally ill, and was exhibiting manic and aggressive behaviors as well as deep depression on the day of the shootings.

However, two counselors who evaluated Haq three days before the shootings testified that he was having no side effects from his medications and seemed to be feeling well. They said he was even looking for work.

Haq was on six prescription drugs, including lithium, for his mental disorders. Defense attorneys had hoped to convince the jury that the combination was toxic and that a change in medications before the shootings had induced side effects that spurred his rampage.

Two shooting victims, Goldman and Cheryl Stumbo, who were in court nearly every day voiced disappointment and shock at the verdict. Still, they said they would be back when the next trial starts.

“I’m ashamed that I live in a society where the seriously and chronically mentally ill can legally purchase handguns,” Stumbo said after the mistrial. “How can it not be obvious to our elected representatives that the right to live and work in a safe environment trumps the right of dangerous people to buy and use deadly weapons?”

LAPD seeks tips in identifying synagogue vandals, releases surveillance video

The video from LAPD

Police are requesting the public’s help in identifying the perpetrator of synagogue vandalism.

On November 13, someone spraypainted a devil on the back wall of Congregation Beth Israel at 8056 Beverly Blvd. in the Fairfax district. The vandalism was captured on video, and police believe a citizen will be able to identify the perpetrator.

“We have exhausted all means in the investigation,” said Detective Ronald Case. “I believe someone will know who this is,” he said.

Anyone with information about this crime is urged to contact LAPD Wilshire Division, (213) 922-8228.

The City Council, at Councilman Jack Weiss’ urging, offered a $20,000 reward.

“Repeatedly vandalizing a Jewish house of worship sends a message of hate to the entire Jewish community,” said Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Amanda Susskind.  “We are proud to have elected leaders and law enforcement who so willingly and promptly denounce these message crimes.”

Susskind expressed particular concern in the wake of the recent spate of hate crimes in the San Fernando Valley, which included anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism attacks in Tarzana in January and incendiary devices launched at the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus and a private home in West Hills in February. 

A brutal attack against an Orthodox man in North Hollywood in April prompted the LA City Council, led by Council Member Wendy Greuel, and ADL to offer a combined $30,000 reward for information leading to the identification, apprehension, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the attack.

The most recent Hate Crimes Report released by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations for 2006 shows that Jews continue to be the most frequently targeted religious group, now accounting for 71 percent of religious-based hate crimes.